Mayor Rob Ford is under renewed pressure from councillors to step down and provide answers to questions after Toronto police revealed they had obtained a video of the mayor from evidence seized in drug raids earlier this year.
Toronto police Chief Bill Blair told reporters during a Thursday morning press conference that investigators had obtained a digital video file in which the mayor appeared and which the media had reported on.
While Blair did not say what the video showed, the police chief said the images contained in the file "appear to be those images which were previously reported in the press with respect to events that took place, we believe, at a house on Windsor Road in Etobicoke."
The Toronto Star and the website Gawker reported earlier this year that someone had been shopping a video that allegedly showed the mayor using crack cocaine. Ford denied the video’s existence and also denied using crack cocaine.
In the wake of Blair’s news conference, which came alongside new revelations about the police investigation into Alexander "Sandro" Lisi — a friend of Ford’s who is now charged with extortion — city councillors say the mayor has questions to answer.
Coun. Gloria Lindsay Luby said the mayor needed to apologize to the city and should also take a leave of absence.
“I think he should step aside until he clears his name, absolutely, and I don’t know how long that will be, but it’s going to be in the courts,” she told reporters Thursday, following the police chief’s remarks at a morning news conference.
Ahead of the news conference, Coun. Shelley Carroll also said that Ford should step down.
"It's time for him really to take a leave," she said, noting that the media scrutiny Ford is facing is not about to die down.
Coun. Matlow said that the mayor should resign if he didn’t answer the questions on the minds of Torontonians.
Toronto deserves a mayor who will put our city's residents before himself. Mayor Ford should honestly answer questions or resign immediately— Josh Matlow (@JoshMatlow) October 31, 2013
When Ford later spoke briefly with reporters on Thursday afternoon, the mayor said he was not in a position to comment on matters before the courts.
"I wish I could come out and defend myself. Unfortunately, I can’t because it’s before the courts and that’s all I can say right now."
But he said he would not step down.
"I have no reason to resign," Ford said.
Late Thursday afternoon, Coun. Sarah Doucette posted a statement on her Facebook page, saying that "the responsible thing for him to do would be to step down."
The mayor and the media
Coun. Joe Mihevc suggested Thursday that Ford needed to be "looking himself in the mirror" and convincing himself to "come clean" with Torontonians.
Mihevc said he was upset that the questions about Ford’s life have overshadowed important issues at city hall.
"Day after day, the only story that seems to matter is the media encampment in front of the mayor’s office and the ongoings on in there — that is a major distraction and is really setting the city back," he said.
Coun. Paula Fletcher said the mayor should be thinking about "the best interests of Toronto," though she stopped short of calling for him to step down.
"I’m leaving that up to Mayor Ford to decide what that is," Fletcher said Thursday.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong said he was "saddened by the new developments" regarding the mayor.
"The mayor needs to explain and answer completely all the information that has been presented," he said.
"And if these allegations are true, it will be a big disappointment to all those people who support the mayor’s agenda."
Similar remarks were posted online by Coun. Gord Perks, who said the information disclosed in court documents and the remarks from the police chief about the mayor were "sad and worrying."
Perks called on the mayor to consider the impact of his actions on the city "as he decides what to do next."
Ford has served as the mayor of Toronto for the past three years.
The 44-year-old previously served as a city councillor for a ward in Etobicoke, a suburb of Toronto.
During his three years in office, Ford has often made headlines both for his work at city hall and his life outside of it.